The GOP Plan That Changed The Political Landscape in NC, US

The GOP Plan That Changed The Political Landscape in NC, US

12:04pm Jun 22, 2016
The congressional districts in North Carolina. Credit: State Board of Elections

North Carolina’s political maps have sparked controversy – and lawsuits – since they were unveiled in 2011. Journalist David Daley has a new book arguing those boundaries were part of a much broader plan to keep districts in Republican hands. The book’s title is a slang term for political sabotage, “Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy."

Daley says North Carolina and other states were targeted by Republicans in 2010 as part of a strategy to seize statehouses across the country. State lawmakers are typically in charge of drawing legislative districts. Winning those seats gave the GOP a chance to use sophisticated mapping technology to reconfigure the districts and lock in an advantage for the next 10 years. 

Daley says the plan was legal and at times even transparent, with several Republicans openly detailing specifics of the plan as it was being worked out. The result, Daley says, is districts that are so slanted that it limits options for voters, and politics become increasingly hardlined. 

He devotes an entire chapter to how the plan unfolded in North Carolina. WFDD’s Paul Garber spoke to Daley about the book and how a strategy called REDMAP [Redistricting Majority Project] changed politics here and across the country.

Interview Highlights

On how North Carolina serves as a microcosm of the REDMAP strategy:

North Carolina is one of the amazing examples of unbelievable money coming into the system … They targeted these Democratic legislators and – this is the REDMAP playbook – come into the districts with hundreds of thousands of dollars of difficult-to-trace money and throw hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads at these candidates whose entire budget for a race might be $100,000. Knock out the incumbents, flip the districts, flip the chambers, and then in 2011 aggressively remap the entire state.

On how redistricting can impact policies like HB2, North Carolina's law passed this year that limits LGBT protections:

We have completely uncompetitive districts now and these districts mean that the only competition comes within the Republican primary. It changes the very nature of the people who end up representing us. They become more extreme than the rest of the population and they have different interests.

On how the Democrats got beat on redistricting:

In 2008, the Democrats put together a sensational get-out-the-vote campaign, they find voters, they use social media in really innovative ways. And in 2010, it’s like they were not thinking about this at all. It’s not as if this is a secret, I mean gerrymandering is the oldest trick in the book.

On how to make the process more fair:

I think a strategy has to involve referendums statewide that take redistricting out of the hands of politicians. People understand how broken our politics are, and they want to do things that fix it. And honest partisans of both sides want to win in a fair fight at the ballot.

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